Leap Motion's incredible strategy

It isn’t every day that you wake up to read about a huge leap forward in technology. That appears to have happened today with a new product — Leap Motion. Basically, it is Kinect on steriods and open. Watch the video.

It looks quite incredible. Indeed, its inventors wrote on their site: “It sounds too good to be true, we know.  But, that’s what we specialize in around here.”

Well, I’ll tell you what sounds too good to be true, how this is being sold? Is it embedded within an existing proprietary system? No. Is it being licensed to developers to appear in products at some later stage? No. Instead, it is being sold at $70 a pop. That’s it. It will then plug in to any Mac or PC. The rest is up to developers who can seemingly get everything they need for free.

What sort of strategy is this? Well, right now it is what might be called “competitive strategy.” You build a product and sell it. That might work well. There are 1.2 billion personal computers out there and if you find something that goes with all of them you could do well. But you face a challenge of adoption. Developers have to believe you are going to continue to support them without charging license fees. Consumers have to believe that developers will be there and also that the price of the device won’t be jacked up to them in the future.

If either of those things were not to be the case the strategy would have to change. One way of providing a commitment to develop would be to sell the device to a developer — Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple — as an exclusive or long-term deal. This collaborative strategy could ensure that development takes place. Another way to provide a commitment to develop would be to release the internal specs for this device out into the open but I suspect that might pose issues for future appropriation of value. However, it would provide great conditions for a platform to be developed.

On the consumer side, it is tough to commit to affordable prices but then again may be it isn’t such an issue if the device works. Buy it now at $70 and you can use it well into the future. So there is probably no need to offer just a commitment of low prices for the device to consumers in the hope of spreading adoption and pre-disrupting any future competition on similar grounds.

My guess is that either development will prove easy and modular and take off without significant collaborations or that those collaborations will come but be of a wider rather than a exclusive nature. Either way, this will be a company to watch.

4 Replies to “Leap Motion's incredible strategy”

  1. I submitted an advance order and finally got one. A lot of developers are writing software that uses this device and at least one laptop has it integrated. The vast majority of the software is computer games and I don’t bother with computer games.

    I wanted a good alternative to the standard mouse but I have yet to see one of those. For a while, there was a logon application that used the biometrics of you hand, but that was withdrawn because, as I understand it, it was too easy to fool it.

    My Leap Motion controller is now sitting in a drawer unused. Occasionally, I get an email from the company telling me about the ‘wonderful’ new games I can buy. Ho Hum!

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